“Professor XYX is a good teacher.” “Yes, but is XYZ rigorous? Is there rigor in XYZ’s teaching?”
The term rigor has been used to cast doubt on XYZ’s teaching and reputation.
My personal library contains dozens of books on teaching and learning. Not recalling the term rigor in my professional reading (except for denigrations of teachers beset by rigor mortis), my curiosity has been piqued. Am I missing something by being unaware of rigor in the classroom? What does rigorous teaching mean? Am I deficient?
On to Google, but the first 20 links didn’t return anything that is obviously relevant to my questions. On to Merriam-Webster, where rigor is defined as:
- a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty
- : a tremor caused by a chill
- : a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold
- : strict precision : exactness <logical rigor>
Synonyms of rigor are difficult and arbitrary.
The last thing I want is for my teaching to be characterized as inflexible, severe, or cruel. I do not want to make it difficult for students to learn. Rigor in one’s teaching approach is to be avoided instead of embraced.
Never-the-less, the challenge of rigor is ever present. More on this later.
by David Albrecht